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Utah's civil attorneys will be required to file their paperwork electronically beginning next year.

The April 1 date, approved this week by the Utah Judicial Council, will mark the first wave in the state's efforts to move its filings exclusively to an electronic format.

The new rule affects all civil filings in the district courts — which account for more than two-thirds of the filings statewide — with the exception of probate cases. Probate cases will have to be filed electronically starting July 1.

The new procedure will free up between 29 and 58 clerical positions throughout the state, Deputy Court Administrator Ray Wahl said.

"When it's e-filed, they don't have to create a file. The computer does that. The filing fees are automated," Wahl told the Judicial Council this week. "You can imagine how much time savings there would be."

Wahl said the positions would be eliminated only through attrition and that the remaining clerks would likely be trained for new positions.

Clerks will still take filings from self-represented parties, and lawyers can ask for a hardship exception to the rule.